Last-minute bookings where hoteliers lop 20-25% off the standard price were the engine behind Bulgaria’s once-booming seaside tourism industry in the traditionally bumper months of July and August, hoteliers and tour operators said.
As the economic downturn made vacationers snap up their purses, the share of last-minute bookings widened from a humble 10-15% of all in previous periods to 30-40% this season, when separate hotels even recorded 50%.
Coupled with the shorter tourist season, this battered revenues in a sector that generates around 14% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
“Tourist numbers dropped by around 10-12% this year but revenues slumped by more than 30%,” said Elena Ivanova, chairwoman of the Sunny Beach owners’ union.
Her estimates were echoed by Georgi Shterev, who chairs the owners’ union in Bulgaria’s other upmarket resort of Golden Sands, on the northern Black Sea coast, who said that tourist numbers have dwindled by 10-15% as revenues have come in 20-25% shorter.
Despite the sharp decline, Bulgaria has scored higher than all of its main competitors expect for neighbouring Turkey, which hopes to eke out a 5% rise.
As the highest season draws to an end, hoteliers and tour operators are putting the finishing touches on summer 2010 deals, when most companies will slash the number of hotels they work with but do their best to keep tourist numbers unchanged. In addition, they will seek ways to encourage early bookings through juicier offers and special extras to packages.
Uncle's comment: Bulgaria must learn to compete in terms of both price and quality.It is no longer a budget tourist destination because the resorts have priced themselves out of the market.They ought to learn from Western supermarkets 'Stack it high sell it cheap !'